SUMMIT, NJ - The Lena Willis Mission Endowment Fund of Central Presbyterian Church has awarded a $25,000 grant to Summit-based national nonprofit Family Promise. The award will assist Family Promise and its volunteers in their effort to prevent homelessness and to shelter and stabilize families who lose housing.

Volunteers move families into their new homes, as well as provide trucks, donated furniture, and household items. They help family members find housing and jobs, provide security deposits and first months’ rent, and help prepare for job interviews – one volunteer even covered the cost of the remaining six credits a local mom needed to complete her Bachelor’s Degree. 

Utilizing their many skills, volunteers lead workshops for families on financial literacy (budgeting, saving) and good tenancy (tenants’ rights, rent and utilities management, property upkeep), and hold drives for needed items, all of which offers families tools to maintain their housing and independence.

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Nationally, Family Promise engages more than 200,000 volunteers in 200+ communities through their unique model of volunteer engagement and community-driven action. 

"Engaging volunteers allows Family Promise to work directly in the community and maximize our impact, as well as provide families with the resources they need to be able to move into housing," said Geleen Donovan, Director of the Family Promise-Union County program. 

"A single mom was recently delayed in moving into her new apartment because the landlord needed to paint before she could move in and he did not have the money for the job. Family Promise quickly formed a group of Summit volunteers to paint the apartment. This saved the landlord money and expedited the move-in for the family. This is the power of Family Promise volunteers," Donovan said. 

Central Presbyterian Church is part of a local network of 37 congregations and more than 1,500 community members who provide safe, home-like accommodations, home-cooked meals, and ongoing support to homeless families. Family Promise's approach allows for quick re-housing; in Union County, 80 percent of families who enter the shelter program find permanent or supportive housing in fewer than nine weeks. 

"Thanks to Central Presbyterian Church's generous support over the years— totaling nearly $175,000— we have been able to grow our volunteer engagement and outreach to improve congregational coordination, and encourage skills-based volunteerism," said Cara Bradshaw, Chief Impact Officer at Family Promise. Bradshaw added, "The support from Central Presbyterian Church and the Lena Willis Mission Endowment Fund has been instrumental in helping Family Promise cultivate a well-trained and engaged group of volunteers who change the future for families." 

To learn more about volunteering with Family Promise locally, contact Amy Jones at ajones@familypromise.org or call 908-273-1100, ext. 38.